Apr 22, 2017

More central Ohioans drawn to Hinduism

By Danae King
The Columbus Dispatch


Andrea McCanney had tried everything to cure her depression: doctors, medicine and all the Western world had to offer.

Nothing worked.

Then, at the urging of a friend in 2011, she went to Nithyanandeshwara Hindu Temple in Delaware County. She sat in front of a live video feed from India of the temple’s guru, Paramahamsa Nithyananda, and after trying his techniques, she began to feel better.

“He gives you direction,” said McCanney, of Delaware. “He gives you techniques, a little thing to try. You do it enough times and it really starts to change everything about your life. It gives you a new perspective.”

Three months later she went to India to learn more. Now, she’s the ritual coordinator at the temple and Nithyananda gave her the name Gurupriya Nithya, which she will soon make her legal name.

Hinduism is the third-most practiced religion in Columbus, according to a 2015 report by the Columbus Council on World Affairs. The report says there were 11,147 adherents and that Columbus is home to 15 Hindu temples. Most Columbus residents, 648,889 in 2015, practice Christianity, and the second-largest religion is Islam, with 15,578 adherents, according to the report.

At Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple and Hindu Cultural Center of Ohio on the North Side, Head Priest Satyanarayana Sastry said he sees more Americans showing an interest in Hinduism.

People are interested in Hindu principles of nonviolence, vegetarianism and more, he said. There also are often free classes in yoga, meditation and cooking offered at temples that draw people further into the culture.

Traditions such as yoga and meditation can help stressed Americans find relief from daily life and transform them, said Kate Kaura, a graduate teaching associate in comparatives studies at Ohio State University.

“There’s always been this stereotype that the East is spiritually fulfilled and prosperous and that the West is materially fulfilled,” Kaura said. “Some Westerners are finding they’re not fulfilled in material goods and are looking for spiritual fulfillment ... they’re looking toward Hinduism and Buddhism.

“I think people are ready for something that’s more inclusive than what they were exposed to previously,” added McCanney.

The spiritual tradition doesn’t judge people on their body, race, gender, gender identity, sexuality or even religion.

“It is beyond religion,” said Ma Sivananda, the spiritual head of the Nithyanandeshwara Hindu Temple. “Hindu dharma is inclusiveness of all ... It’s relating with yourself, your inner being. It’s relating with everybody in your life.”

Part of the appeal of the religion might also be the fact that it doesn’t require those interested in it to profess their belief, Kaura said.

Free classes

Nithyanandeshwara Hindu Temple, 820 Pollock Road in Delaware, offers free classes, including:

• Meditation: 7 p.m. Wednesdays at the temple.

• A "Heal and Rewrite Your Relationships" class: 7 p.m. Thursdays at Phoenix Bookstore, 3110 N. High St. in Clintonville.

• Yoga: 9:30 a.m. Saturdays at the temple.

For more information on free classes, visit www.vedictempleohio.com.

“It’s arguably one of the most-inclusive religions there is,” Kaura said. “(Americans) are interested in dabbling in different traditions, and Buddhism and Hinduism don’t require practitioners or followers to declare absolute faith. They’re just picking and choosing.”

Instead of giving up another faith, people can incorporate their religious backgrounds into Hinduism, said Paul Olen, a member of the Delaware County temple who lives in Delaware. He was raised Roman Catholic, but no longer practices. But he said he still believes in the teachings of Jesus, whom he believes was a holy man.

“(Hinduism) is not incompatible with anything,” Olen said. “The only thing it’s incompatible with is ... if people think of themselves as separate. We believe in oneness. The goal is to experience oneness with all.”


No comments: